Friday, October 24th, 2008 at 8:22 am  |  36 responses

He’s All Wright

Former lottery pick Sharone Wright isn’t dead.

Sharone Wright, Rookie GAmeby Matt Caputo

Some people thought Sharone Wright just vanished. After playing the better part of four seasons, Wright’s NBA career ended when a car crash took him out of action. Though the accident cost his place on the court, he’s never lost his spot in the game.

During parts of his four years at Clemson, Wright led the ACC in blocks and rebounds. The 6-11 Georgia native was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 6th pick in the 1994 draft. By the numbers, his best year in the League was as a rookie with the 76ers when he averaged 11.4 points and 6 rebounds per game in 79 games. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Now living near Amsterdam and working towards an NBA comeback–this time as a coach–Wright still hopes to make an impact in the league he’d dreamed he’d play in. SLAM spoke to Wright about where he’s been since he’s left the League.

SLAM: What’s up with you right now?
Sharone Wright: Trying to win all the games I can. Trying to get over there, to be an NBA coach someday. I’m coaching a team called Eiffel Towers in this League outside of Amsterdam. It’s a place called Den Bosch. It’s probably the capital of basketball in Amsterdam because we’ve won like 12 championships and stuff like that. It’s kinda like how New York is for basketball in the states.

Most people know Amsterdam as that freelance place where everything is legal and all that, and it’s true, but the people are great, my wife lives and works here, my son, Nicholas, was born here and speaks the language. It’s one of those things where I’m in an organization that really cares for me. There are a lot of places that you probably could be and wouldn’t like, but it’s awesome over here.

How’s the level of play out there?
SW: It’s not a great level of play, but our team and one other team in Amsterdam that Sharone Wright, todayplays in the Euro League so we are pretty much the cream of the crop in this area. I wouldn’t say we are quite with Spain but I think we could beat a team or two in that league.

SLAM: How did you end up with this job you have now?
SW: I was playing with this team for two years. We won championships both years. I came from Spain and also Poland. I went to Korea for a little while. After the NBA I stopped for two years. And then my mentor, Randy Weil, happened to be the coach of this team right here, because he is part Dutch, but he recruited me when I was at Clemson. He played and coached for North Carolina. He wanted me on the team and he said when you want to start coaching, let me know. So after I retired from playing I was head assistant for a year, then he moved me up to head assistant scout, so it worked out pretty good.

SLAM: What kind of lifestyle to you live when you were a college guy at Clemson?
SW: I was one of the top five or six players in the nation at that time, when I came out in ’99 I was All-American. I lived pretty good, but I also produced. I was Second-Team All-ACC and First-Team freshman All-American. I think I set three or four records my first year at Clemson where we were known for producing big men like Elden Campbell, Horace Grant, Tree Rollins, Dale Davis–guys like that. I kind of went there because I knew I had a similar game.

At Clemson it’s a little bit different because, obviously; it’s a football school. Over the years, we will have a good team every three or four years, it kind of worked out for me. I was going to commit to Duke, but my dad didn’t want me to because he felt like I wouldn’t play a whole lot. My dad wanted to be on the court at all times and didn’t want me to play for a coach that would defer to an older player, like a (Christian) Laettner, or someone like that. My dad, before he died when I was in 12th grade–the same day I got my scholarship–he wanted me to lift my family up, out of the ghetto, and he knew that the only way I could do that was to be on the court at all times and to go to a program that was all about me.

SLAM: The NBA player-agent relationships were a little bit different when you were playing college ball.
SW: I think so. I signed with David Falk coming out of school, everyone knows who he is because of his connections with Jordan and Iverson and so forth. I knew him because I knew some acquaintances of Jordan, so since I knew them I kind of knew Falk. It was all just phone calls. It really wasn’t anything like him coming to take me to dinner or anything like that. I think agents back then really knew their roles, they knew they couldn’t just come to your school and take you shopping and all that type of crazy stuff. It was more like you know if they are in the stands, like if David Falk is at a game, I know he is there.

SLAM: Do you feel you were ready when you went to the draft?
SW: I really do feel like I was. In some ways I’m not as proud of my NBA career as I should have been. My wife, Brandi, has always been been like, “you should be proud of where you were drafted and the three or four years that you did play.” I was a solid player but then I got injured in a car accident and I think some people didn’t understand that. What I really hate is when someone labels you and says you weren’t that good when my NBA career got halted when I was nearly killed in a car wreck in my fifth year. I was out for nearly two years because I broke my arm in about five places, so it was really hard for me to come back. It took me almost two and a half years, and when I came back it was difficult. You know you are either an NBA player or you’re not. You can’t just be off two years and think you are gonna be the same player. It’s just not like that.

SLAM: Aside from the accident, what would you say was the most difficult thing for you transitioning to the NBA?
SW: I would say that it was nothing on the court. On the court I was ready. I had a big body. I could play forward and center. The only thing that made it a hard transition was the outside life. Just the way that people crowd and surround you–you don’t have any spare time. Everyone is always trying to grab all your time and your space. I’m a space person. I need my space. When you are in the limelight you share your life with millions of people, and I try to not let that get to me but that was the hardest part.

SLAM: Would you say you were into the fast life?
SW: Yeah I would say I was at a certain point. I think we all do. It’s kind of true how the rappers say it, “it ain’t trickin’ if you got it…” you know what I mean. I was on the phone with my boy Tracy Murray the other day talking ’bout how those first couple years we tricked off money, spending it on chicks or cars, or all that type of stuff. But we learn, though. I was fortunate to have some older guys on my team the first couple years. Dana Barros, John Long, Derrick Coleman, I was around those guys that helped me not get caught up in it maybe as much as I would have otherwise.

SLAM: What was your greatest moment in the NBA?
SW: I really loved Philadelphia, but I got to say being on the early teams with the Sharone Wright, RaptorsRaptors was the best time that I had because I was around guys that I kind of grew up in basketball with. Sean Respert, Damon Stoudamire, Marcus Camby, Doug Christie, we were all really cool. We had been at Nike Camp in New Jersey together–we were all on a lot of select teams together–it just seemed like we all started on that team and we had grown up together. That was the best time of my career, being a part of that team. We were surrounded by John Long, Alvin Robertson and other guys like that who we learned from.

SLAM: What was your lowest point in the NBA?
SW: I would say the day that I got up late one morning because I was helping some people out at the Harriet Tubman museum in Macon, Georgia. I was speeding, going 70 something in a 40 mile per hour zone, and I flipped my car and it ended my career, or my NBA career anyway. I turned the car over four or five times and broke my arm each time it turned over. That was really hard. And the toughest time after that was just the rehab, I was in a cast for six or seven months and I broke my shoulder too. It was hard because I was feeling like my career just wasn’t long enough, I was a solid player.

SLAM: When did it actually happen?
SW: It was my third year with the Raptors. I was looking for an extension. I had averaged 9 or 10 points a game, we had a solid team with Walt Williams, Damon, Sean, Popeye Jones–I mean we were really rollin at that point. We had Camby, McGrady, we were gonna draft Vince that following year. I was really looking forward to that and then things happened. I don’t even remember the day. I try not to. I had played four-and-a-half years in the League at that time.

SLAM: Does it bother you that some people might think of you as a bust? Or at least a bust in the sense as they might think ‘what happened to that guy’?
SW: That does bother me a lot because they don’t know what happened. They might say ‘well he only played four or five years.’ Even when you read SLAM and you read the “NOYZ” line on the bottom, people don’t understand what happens sometimes and I don’t like that. You ask people about me and they will tell you I was a solid player: I could get 20 a night, I could do a lot, I could play two or three positions. They don’t know that I almost killed myself or where I went for two years. The people that know me, they know what happened. Did people just think that I committed suicide or something? No, I was just in a really bad accident and I was in the hospital for a long, long time.

I tore my whole left side up. I messed up my shoulder and my collarbone, and I broke my arm in four or five spots. I cracked my elbow so I had to get artificial stuff in my arm. I had multiple surgeries. And then, when I did get back, I tried to play for the Raptors, but it didn’t work out like that. The following year I went to Europe and continued my career there for four or five more years and got stronger. I wasn’t an NBA player anymore, I think the prime of my career was taken by that accident.

SLAM: How did you get back into basketball shape after the accident? Were you working with anyone?
SW: There was a guy in Atlanta who actually went to Clemson. He was named Chubby Wells. We work out with Eric Snow, Jermaine O’Neal, Dale Davis. A lot of us go in there everyday.That whole summer, I just really dedicated myself to getting back. I couldn’t jump as high as I used to. A lot of the stuff leaves if you’re not playing consistently in the NBA, you kind of lose some things. But I didn’t mind, I was just happy to be on the court again. I went to Poland, ended up in Amsterdam and they loved me here and took a chance on me being a coach.

SLAM: How close did you get to the League again?
SW: I played well in the Miami mini camp the first year that they had Shaquille and Coach Riley liked me and then they signed Doleac. I felt like I was better than him, but they signed him; it’s politics sometimes. That particular year, Shaq didn’t have a back up and I wanted to be the back up. I worked as hard as I could and I really think that I did great there, and they told me that they thought so, too, and that I had a possibility of making the team. Then, next thing you know, they signed Doleac. I’m not a hater, but I would have loved the opportunity and I think I earned it. When that happened, though, I just went on to Europe and left it at that.

SLAM: What can you tell some of the young cats today, like Brandon Jennings, who are going overseas or thinking about doing it?
SW: I did a lot of scouting for my team in Europe, so I’ve seen every part of this game over here. Let me just say this: if you have a chance to go to college, then please go because, if you’re in high school, there’s no way that you’re ready for this over here. You know why? See, in the NBA, they coddle you a bit–you know, show you around, stuff like that–but when you step foot over here on one of these teams, you’re supposed to be a grown ass man when you get over here.

I practice my guys twice a day and, in the middle of that, you got to lift weights. There’s really no way a youngster can prepare for what goes on over here; sometimes you don’t get your money on time, sometimes you don’t have the right living arrangement. And you say that just because of money you want to come over here? You better get your education first. If you got to go to JuCo, then go to JuCo because if you’re any good, then the money will be there. Brandon Jennings, maybe he can do it, you just don’t know. He’s going to the Italian League which is a very tough league. I won’t be surprised Sharone Wright, Sixersif they double team him and get all on him just to show that young American guys can’t come over and do it, just to prove a point. I’m not gonna say don’t go, but if you have a chance to stay, then stay. It’s not a candy ass league. A lot of what it is are the agents and shoe company people telling them to turn their head up. That’s all it really is.

SLAM: How do you feel that you’ll be remembered by NBA fans?
SW: I don’t know. I hope they say that I was a hardworking guy and, after reading this article and knowing exactly what happened to me, I would hope that people don’t think that I was just a guy who decided to stop playing. I was in a really horrible accident and it was hard to get back. I’m a big fan of basketball, and SLAM, and the NBA, and I hope to be there pretty soon as a coach. As a matter of fact, I know that I’m gonna be there as a coach in the next three to four years. I’m putting in the work right now. Instead of the NBA giving jobs to guys who don’t know the game, I’ll be one of the guys that does know the game. I’ll be taking the Mike D’Antoni way of coaching–starting over here and making my way over there.

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  • maeng

    1st! does it really matter who’s first on every article? guess not.:)

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    I like his shoes in the first picture… not. :)
    Great piece Caputo-like always.

  • James aka the artist formerly known as Krayzie Bone

    I remember that car crash. He played with the raptors at a time where everyone’s potential on the squad was overestimated, which meant they were serious that he was going to be a key piece of a good team. He showed flashes of course that many (ahem zan tabak) couldn’t but at the time of his accident, they were fitting for a ring before he had even put up popeye jones numbers for the team

  • Prentice Mcgruder

    dude sounds BITTER about the way things ended for him in the L. Hope that he can catch on to a team as a coach soon to provide himself with some closure.

  • justin

    This is one of those guys I never forget about when me and my boys have that classic “remember them?” discussion. Man that dude could play, and Shawn Respert, who he gave a shout out, was the MAN at Mich. St. but raggedy ass Eric Snow made it. Who knew?

  • James aka the artist formerly known as Krayzie Bone

    I would be bitter too. He could have had 10 years in the league with his skillset, no question. But it’s good he has a decent life in a nice city.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    If there were any NOYZ lines about him, I’m sure I wrote them, and now I feel terrible.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Wright’s story should definitely finish on a bright note. He’s putting in his time now…

  • Myung

    I remember watching him play in the Georgia high school all star game (on public TV!), back in the early 90′s. I think he was a senior the same year as James Forrest (another “what happened to him” guy). I really thought he was a “can’t miss” talent.

  • Myung

    I remember watching him play in the Georgia high school all star game (on public TV!), back in the early 90′s. I think he was a senior the same year as James Forrest (another “what happened to him” guy). I really thought he was a “can’t miss” talent.

  • Myung

    (I must’ve really wanted to say that… since I sent it through twice)

  • jdizz

    some one needs to slap some sense into this fool. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/wrighsh01.html he averaged 6.5 points and 2.3 points over the last two years of his career before the accident. His whack game killed his career… get real brotha !!!

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    1- When you get to the 10th, 11th men or reserve guys it’s really about who the coaches like more. Perhaps Doleac was easier to deal with and accepted his role better. Not saying that Wright isn’t easy to deal with, I’m just saying that Doleac might have been a better cheerleader.
    2- Brandon will get every single penny. There’s too much at stake. Getting paid was the only reason he went there. If he doesn’t, no HS guy will follow. Same with Josh, he will get his money.

  • jdizz

    By the way, Doleac has been in the NBA for a Decade, just because some one is white doesent mean you have to be a hater…..go change you’re name to Kwame Brown.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    jdizz, what brings race into this?

  • http://deleted jdizz

    He brought it into it , %99 of the NBA is african american’s and he blames not having an NBA job on a white man. Pat Riley is smart, I am sure if Pat Riley thought this bum was better then Doleac he would have picked him.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    jdizz, you’re reaching. and you seem to bean idiot. have a nice day.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    Is DerMarr Johnson not following the same exact career path? Except he keeps trying and trying to no luck. This whole thing is so damn sad that it’s horrible and terrible and makes me want to die. So nice job, Caputo. Seriously.

  • Myung

    Any article that has photos of Rony Seikaly and Eric Montross in the background is a winner.

  • Will Lee

    he was pretty good in the season end the first year in Philly. I say he would be at least Donyell Marshall type of career. We really should not speed.

  • suzyq

    I went to school with him at clemson and he was an absolute workhorse . its sad to see but he is a good dude who deserved more. im glad we will see him on the sidelines in the NBA again soon. ohh and why are there some really harsh words for a great guy and good player?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Caputo, your writing matters. What I mean when I say that is, you pick the topics, players, people and things about the NBA that deserve a space for their voice to be heard. This is no exception. Thanks for this, and thanks to Sharone for being an inspiration when things don’t go as planned.

  • MaJic dorsey

    Caputo my dude. man you always catch the readers with your stories. keep the good work up. you going be doing my life book soon. i already promised my self that. hit my cell up. i leave for the nba dl on nov 8th

  • Todd Spehr

    As a Sixers fan from the post-Barkley, pre-Iverson era (aka The Spoon Era), I always appreciated the way Sharone played. He was apparently a huge Moses Malone fan as a kid – even dressed up like him for Halloween. Philly gave up on him early (after a year and a half IIRC), and gave him away to Toronto. He had a beautiful drop step and a nice touch around the hoop; too bad his career was cut short. Thanks for the update Matt.

  • byron m

    what a great college player. too bad about the wreck. he was solid. great piece Matt.

  • knice

    big dog keep it going dog. we know how you kicked ass at clemson and in your NBA years. we knew of the wreck and prayed for you. dont let them haters breathe your air my dude.I was there all the way and being a true clemson boy I felt your pain. We wouldnt even be talking about some of these guys in the league if you didnt get hurt. real talk.ask them in philly and toronto dog. one love
    Kev nice clemson 97

  • AB_40

    haha he lives in the netherlands he says amsterdam 2 times instead of that. I live there. And I’ve played in that leauge I’m rehabbing this year. And I’ll go play college or pro ball somewhere next season. The team which he coaches has jerome beasley you know the seccond round pick from the heat a few years back… I watched Den Bosch vs Amsterdam friday (Amsterdam has Orion Greene) I wasn’t impressed terrible fundamentels and ugly ball…

  • Dr.DEnBosch

    Well since youre so good then say who you are? The FEB is not the best league in the world but its decent. We love coach Wright and he is an amazing coach . And by the way , he did say Den Bosch in the interview so maybe you should read better!!! Sam vincent and terrance Stansbury (both Ex NBA players came from this team) . 12 championshps in the Dutch league so there is nothng more to talk about when youre talking about Netherlands basketball. How many championships have you won in Or league since you played in it.
    Whatever. Rock on coach Wright!!!!!!!!!!! we love you. HEyaaaa Den Bosch.

  • http://tamirgoodman.com Tamir Goodman

    Great read. SW-Way to stay strong!

  • eiffelfan

    Here in the Netherlands, and in Den Bosch at the most, Sharone is a well respected person. I have the privilige speaking to him almost every week after the match. Not only about basketball. He is a great person, not only in lenght but also as a man. We would be sad if once he’s leaving us. But we know such a guy can’t stay forever at the team. He’s simply too good, and can also in the NBA as a coach do great things. Sharone the fans in Den Bosch respect you and love you, whatever the future brings us.

  • Green

    Even though Wright is looking up to coach Wiel right now, he still is underestimating the talent he has. I think it’s too bad the world will never know the crazy things he would have been doing in the NBA, but i also know that Den Bosch is already gratefull to Sharone for playing a big role in winning the 2nd consecutive national title and already made his big marks as far as scouting for EiffelTowers. It’s been years since EiffelTowers did well in europe and guess what, now he’s our coach we didnt lose a single game! That’s Wright doing allright!!!

    All i can say is ‘watch him’ as he will most definitely make his steps back to the NBA… And untill that time I hope we can make him stick around over here because there’s no coach like Sharone!

  • Green

    jdizz you really must be experiencing issues for being such a hater. this guy has been in places where you can only go online to book it a year before.. and he gets payed for it.. be real, not a hater. Wright is da man. smell the coffee.

  • ben

    wow, I’m pretty sure I had a basketball card of Sharone when I was a kid. Solid rookie season, solid career in general I think. A real shame about how these accidents happen to people, but I guess that’s life – great article.

  • CC

    He was a solid player . Hard worker! great attitude, and he is going to get his due pay in time.. Great article/interview. I have his rookie card, an old jersey, an old raptors tshirt.. LOVE him!

  • W’s fan

    He didn’t know Oakland was in the bay area when he played the W’s. Me and some friends had a good laugh off that one. Good thing he makes peanuts now.

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